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A Beautiful Spy | Rachel Hore | Book Review

A Beautiful Spy

Book Review

A Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore

Review by Sidra Javed

User Rating: 4.48 ( 2 votes)

A Beautiful Spy

Spying is one of the oldest professions on earth. A Beautiful Spy is a work of fiction inspired by the story of the real life Olga Gray (1906-1990), who spied for Maxwell Knight of British Intelligence during the 1930s. The brave and meticulous work was crucial in bringing Percy Glading to justice for treachery in March 1938.


Minnie Gray is a simple girl living in a small peacefull neighbourhood with her widow mother and siblings. After the death of her father she had to take it on herself to fend for the family. She works as a typist/secretary. Her mother is after her for marriages but she wants something more from her life. Minnie gets an unexpected chance to work for the intelligence services, when an agent floats the idea in a garden party. She instantly says yes.

Maxwell Knight recruits her to spy on the Russian communist propaganda party. Minnie’s typing and office management skills come in handy to land her at the centre of action. She finds her work monotonous as her instructions are to only observe and then report back to Maxwell. Minnie is in awe of the mystery and charm of Maxwell and looks up to him for guidance and motivation. This new life is exciting for her in the start as she is living independently in London for the first time. She is meeting new people and everyday is a thrill.

But, slowly this spy business starts taking a toll on her. She is constantly worried about being caught. There is another predicament at work as she starts liking her coworkers with whom she has built a bond. She eats with them, goes out with them all the while feeling guilty that she is betraying them. Her personal relationships are suffering as she lives a dual life.


A beautiful spy is not a usual thriller spy adventure. It’s very slow paced and nothing much is happening for most part. For 400+ pages this pace of events is a drag. However, I love that era, London, a young woman making a life of her own living independently in a risky and dangerous line of work. The language, manners, atmosphere and settings were enjoyable. If you are in the mood of a slow and easy read  you should give it a try.

Previous Urdu review by Aabaan Ahmed, کبھی عشق کرو

About Sidra Javed

Sidra Javed is a home maker yet reading enthusiast. She loves reading different genres and likes to share her views with others, hoping this will inspire others to take up reading books. On the contrary she's interested in Calligraphy and Art too. She loves adding creativity and delicacy in food.

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